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Local Tobacco Company Gives Money to Flooded Farmers

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WILSON — Hurricane Floyd wiped out acres and acres of tobacco on farms in Eastern North Carolina. Now, one tobacco company is helping five farmers get back on their feet by giving them money to rebuild.

Tobacco farmer Gerald Tyner is starting over. Floodwater from Floyd stormed his house, filled his farm buildings and wrecked his equipment.

The water destroyed $100,000 worth of tobacco he had stored away before the storm, and federal money is no where to be seen.

"We don't know what to do. Tobacco is being cut every year. We just have to put everything on a gamble and go again," said Tyner.

It appears that private money may be the only thing to jump start his operation.

Sante Fe Tobacco, a company in Oxford that makes cigarettes, is giving Tyner and four other farmers grants of $20,000 each to keep working.

"The best tobacco in the world, in our opinion, is grown in North Carolina. Therefore, the biggest portion of our tobacco blend is North Carolina flue-cured tobacco. These guys have done a wonderful job throughout the years, and we need to step up and support them," said Michael Little, vice president of Sante Fe Tobacco.

There is lots of work to do before the next tobacco seedling can go into the ground, but the private grant will help them get started.

It may be enough incentive for Tyner's son to stay in the business.

"You can't get to the top of the ladder at once, but you can take a step or two at a time. Every little bit helps," said Gerald Tyner, Jr.

Farmers are hoping that some of the other cigarette companies will also give some money.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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